The team “Ecophysiology and Physics-chemistry of biosphere-atmosphere interactions” (Eco&Phy) combines three main disciplines: environmental physics and chemistry, plant ecophysiology and agronomy. Eco&Phy was created during the last term period by merging two previously-existing teams: “Biosphere-Atmosphere” and “Plant ecophysiology”. The new team is organized into three research lines (Figure 21) that represent the diversity of the scientific topics it covers, which are led by six scientists, three from each former team. The technical team is also led by a duet.
In short, the context behind our research relates to the impacts of agriculture on climate change and air pollution, and the need for a resilient agriculture with a low environmental footprint and a high-quality products. Our research during the last term period focused on 4 main objectives: (1) Unravelling and modeling the functioning of agroecosystems and their interactions with both biotic (pathogens, macro fauna, multispecies associations) and abiotic (low nitrogen levels, water, heat and oxidative stresses) factors; (2) Identifying the ecophysiological processes involved in the resilience of crops and their associated functional traits; (3) Quantifying and predicting biosphere-atmosphere exchanges of greenhouse gases, contaminants and particles, and the fate of nitrogen and pesticides from local to European scales; (4) Evaluating food- and energy-oriented cropping systems, taking into account production, costs and environmental impacts. A specificity of the team is to master a continuum of models from process-based to operational, linked with a range of experimental tools from controlled environments to the field and the landscape levels.
The team is nationally and internationally recognized in the research fields on contribution of agriculture to greenhouse gases and air pollution, bioenergy crop and land use evaluation, plant structure function modeling, plant diseases development, and landscape scale integration as materialized by the coordination of numerous national projects funded among others by ANR (ESCAPADE), and one European H2020 project (LOGISTEC), as well as by recognized publications in the field (eg, Oswald et al., 2013; Smith et al., 2016;).
A noticeable evolution in the last term period is also the strong development of the topic on the interaction of agro- ecosystems with reactive trace gases (Volatile Organic Compounds - VOC, Particulate Matter, ozone), with the recruitment of a young scientist (Raluca Ciuraru) with a background in atmospheric chemistry, as well as the investment of several engineers and scientist in new methodologies (PTR-TOF-MS, DT-GC-MS, PM…). Another noticeable evolution involves a better integration of the root functioning and its interactions with the soil in the soil-plant-atmosphere exchange, which was recently strengthened by the recruitment of a junior scientist (Frederic Rees) who will investigate the carbon rhizodeposition processes. Finally, some research topics (ammonia and GHG emissions, biofuels, photosynthesis) have reached a maturity level enabling the development of operational tools (Cadastre-NH3, FIDES), several patents applications (organ photosynthesis chamber, NH3 analyzer, NH3 emissions inference method), and the recent creation of a Business Unit on NH3 and GHG monitoring “INRA Transfert Agrosystèmes” as a new team of ECOSYS.
In the following text the main approaches and achievements are detailed for each research line (RL).
Three major evolutions may be highlighted over the last term period: (1) the Eco&Phy team reached a maturity on most of its ‘historical’ topics (ammonia and GHG emissions, structure-function modeling, fungal disease modeling, pesticides emissions, life cycle assessment), (2) it recruited two junior researchers and has heavily invested into new tools which will enable a deeper investigation into plant-soil-atmosphere interactions. Finally, (3) it underwent a major structural change via the merging of two former teams with different disciplinary backgrounds. This has led to intense exchanges between these former teams on scientific and technical issues via the much appreciated “kfé science”. A reflection on new research topics was initiated, which led to the organization of a workshop using the Concept-Knowledge methodology to imagine new research topics that would blend the two disciplines of biosphere-atmosphere exchanges and ecophysiology. It resulted in the framing of priorities of our research that are expected to contribute greatly to the structuring themes of ECOSYS as a whole, and are presented in the project section of this document as our research lines for the next 5 years:
- Research line 1 – Biological regulations and communication in crops: Identification of key processes driving the yield and resilience of bio-diverse canopies
- Research line 2 - Addressing emerging challenges in our understanding of processes involved in plant-soil- atmosphere interactions
- Research line 3 – Biophysical interactions in multifunctional landscapes: How the diversity of land cover, organization and management of a territory can be manipulated to promote resilience and sustainability?
- Research line 4 - Towards larger scales and integrative studies